Send Me Flowers
By Dale Angel
She said, “Son, give me flowers while I’m living, not after I’m dead and can’t see and smell and touch them.”
He was helping to build space equipment, an exciting time of his life and he couldn’t stop. He married a girl from the East Coast of a military family. They lived there—a busy life unable to get beyond their own doors.
She waited by the phone covered with a blanket. He said he’d call. She wrote poetry about her love and how precious he was and waited and grew weak.
They sent school pictures of strangers, little miniature beings of themselves once a year. Occasionally he remembered and sent a card on his way from distant parts of the earth. He meant to visit someday. He was flying on assignments and the planes passed over her, but she imagined his presence. She wanted to look into his eyes and hear his voice and pass family history to his children.
It’s a history of the great depression; a starting point for defenseless people, who got caught in a failing world. Futility drove people to migrate on hope of finding a better place leaving behind property with only a few dollars owed on the farm. It broke families apart. There was no place to escape.
The grandchildren grew up knowing only the same busy world of today’s life, their perceptions of only the moment. Their doors were closed with ‘too busy.’
She wanted them to know about their dad, a history of him as a little boy who ran across floating logs at a mill pond a game little boys played.
To earn money, he gathered pink lilies from the forest to sell to the mortuary. They had to be six feet tall to cover the casket. He gathered Cascara bark to sell to the drug store.
He forged his name to ride a calf in the Pendleton Round Up among every tribe of Indians representing the largest in the world. In the distance, he could see wild horses running along the mountain tops while standing on top of the fence.
He climbed up the ladder to the cab in a train while the engineer was in the depot and pulled levers. They promised jail. He was seven and scared.
She didn’t just want flowers. She had things to share, a library of family history.
That man in the picture hanging on the wall rode on the side of the wagon with his dad at the Oklahoma land rush and watched as men with guns took away their stakes. They rode on until they came to the river and planted them. Distant relatives are still there.
That women beside him had early Texas history. A town is named for her family with cattle and chasing Indians for white captives from the Goodnight Ranch. Books tell the story.
The wagon train journey was a driven desire to find a place to call home. The red hair came by way of Ireland to his children.
She wanted them to know the family had affection and was fair with their slaves and gave them inheritances and invited them to come west, some did.
When she died a history died too, left unsaid.
He sent a large bouquet and came with his children to the west. She didn’t get to touch and see the flowers or hear their voices.
Son…send me flowers while I live. I want to see them feel them smell them and hear your voice. Don’t wait.
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